Our “Red Light” Sexual Harassment Policy

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The free-speech-on-campus group FIRE has released its new report on free speech at Columbia, giving the university a “red light” rating. FIRE took issue with the broad wording of the policy, which “defines ‘sexual harassment’ as ‘any unwanted sexual attention.’ Sexual harassment can also include a “hostile environment,” which includes “love letters,” “sexist jokes” and “sexual innuendos.” Sexual innuendos? Somebody tell the Varsity Show!

It’s not the first time FIRE and Columbia administration have clashed over sexual harassment policy: eight years ago, a rewritten policy came under attack from FIRE and numerous other groups, who claimed that it did not provide for any due process for the accused. The fight eventually led to the resignation of Charlene Allan, the administrator in charge of the Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Education, an office that has since been replaced by the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Program

Although FIRE said that the Health Services policy “is solely responsible for the university’s red-light rating,” they also expressed concern over the university’s spam guidelines, calling them “dangerously broad.” Columbia joins Brown, Cornell, Harvard, and Princeton in the “red light” catergory, while Yale has stayed in the “yellow light” category and Penn and Dartmouth remain in the “green light” category.


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  1. Does that mean...

    Morningside Heights is a red light district?

  2. okay

    am i the only one who isn't really bothered by the language of this policy?

    i mean, i'm all for free speech and everything, but i definitely believe that sexual harassment can encompass any of those things.

    we all fuck around and make sexual jokes and that's great, but at the same time, if someone is making you uncomfortable, that's a problem. that's the problem with sexual harassment cases in the first place: it's hard to determine what is appropriate and what is not, and if and when a line was crossed.

    • well

      The University's sexual harassment policy is pretty skewed towards women. Basically, if you're a guy and you get accused (whether the accusation is valid or not), you're hosed.

    • the death of society

      is caused when people are allowed to become complacent and passive in their own lives. if some sexual innuendo bothers you then take a stand and voice your opinion.

  3. Anonymous

    Bollinger wanted to take a group of students to Iran, as he told Ahmadinejad in 2007. When is he going to do it? If he just talked and not doing it, he is no more than another dirty cowboy politician.

  4. Uh...

    FIRE is actually an ultraconservative group and is pretty notorious for shenanigans like this at many colleges and universities.

    • that

      is patently false. fire is a very consistent organization that stands up for free speech. they take up advocacy for many student groups, both liberal and conservative.

      • ...  


        explain to me why minor nuance in columbia's sexual harassment and anti-spam policies are deserving of a "red light rating", meanwhile it's perfectly okay for fallwell university to decree that forming a college democrats club is against the rules, because well, it's fallwell university and everyone knows what that means.

        • you might do

          some more careful reading. basically, liberty says upfront that it doesn't like free speech. the fire doesn't condemn private colleges who abhor free speech and other liberties because frankly those schools never claimed to stand for such values.

          columbia, on the contrary, has stood for free speech, and thus should be held accountable for those claims.

          if you really think that the fire is some sort of neo-con plot, you are sorely mistaken.

  5. cmon

    the fire report is dumb. it finds fault with stupid little policy things that nobody follows anyway.

    bwog can't you report on something more interesting. isn't any thing going on on campus. well i guess not after all it's summer. but seriously find something more interesting if you are going to update only once a day.

  6. Let's

    also go ahead and take note that Barnard was issued a "yellow-light" rating. Thx, Bwog.

  7. anyone else...

    just not going to type in MLA/APA/Chi style ever again? this whole 1 space after a period is retarded.

    god knows that when I see a period, I try and give it as much space as possible. those things are dangerous...

  8. BLAH

    i still dont have a grade for one of my classes. it doesnt take this long to grade a final paper!

  9. wtv

    dont rele care. let's get some more seniors in non ledersphip positions for senior wisdom

  10. soo...

    ...and yet Dartmouth (green light) has one of the biggest problems with institutionalized sexism... and is THE most conservative ivy league. This whole "red light, green light" shit makes me feel nauseated.

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